Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Munchies: IIFYM

My style of dieting lifestyle is prone to a lot of name calling and bashing-simply because it doesn't fit a mold.  
It's not clean eating.
It's not paleo.
It's not gluten free, or dairy free, or low car, or low fat.  
It's whatever you make it to be-which is what is awesome about it.
However, in order to successfully hit your daily macro count, you are almost forced to eat more clean than not.  
Hitting the required protein is the hardest part, and the fats and carbs go quickly-so unless you're saving up for something special-most people don't have a choice but to limit their fats and carbs.  

I'm a creature of habit, and I'm a-ok with my breakfast and lunch being the same thing day in and day out. In fact, I would prefer for that to be the story for my dinner as well, but with a family I need to attempt a dinner menu.  Unfortunately, that doesn't stop my kids from asking for pizza every.single.night

So, what are my staple munchies while following IIFYM?

For a long time, I had a protein drink for breakfast

I recently bought this protein drink at Costco.  While it has more bank for your buck so to speak (less carbs, way more protein) it consumes a lot of my protein so I found that I wasn't able to eat as much.  My nightly snack used to consist of yogurt, or eggs to meet my daily protein intake.  I've resorted to keeping this as an option to use when I need it.  

Now, I've resorted to eating one of these individual servings of low fat cottage cheese for breakfast.  


Additionally, I use 1/3 of a cup of whole milk in my morning coffee at work.  I can't believe I was on the fat free train for so long! Whole milk makes such a difference and eliminates the need for any flavored creamer. 

I will try to make sure I've had plenty of water after my coffee-about 24 oz.  That helps keep me hydrated which ultimately helps keep my day on track since I'm less hungry.  

My lunch usually consists of a couple of the same items, and I will vary a couple depending on what I plan for dinner.  Typically, lunch is an ezekiel cinnamon rainson muffin with butter spray, a string cheese-which I happily string, some sort of greek yogurt (fat percentage also varies based on daily food planning), and a square of 86% Ghirardelli chocolate.  If I need to reserve more carbs for later in the day I'll eat a can of tuna as my main lunch component.  I need to get better at squeezing in some vegetables.  

My afternoon snack recently has been one serving of plain almonds and a small banana.  I try to eat that on my way home so I'm ready to hit the gym.  

My dinner really has no rhyme or reason-when it's just the kids and me I have the freedom to make them something quick like pasta, or oatmeal, or cereal, and make myself whatever it is that will complete my macros for the day.  If I do cook a "real" dinner, I will just make it work.  I've become a fan of the Imagine soups, specifically the butternut squash, but it's about twice the carbs as the other vegetable version, I've found it worthwhile to switch.  Their creamy broccoli is my new fave.


I used to enjoy making my own huge pot of soup for the week-but the large pot made it difficult to heat up and a lot of times it would go to waste.  Although these soups are on the expensive side, the convenience is worth it.  

I eat a lot of eggs, specifically egg whites.  I will sometimes eat 5-6 egg whites at time.
I also eat chicken, salmon, or turkey deli for dinner a couple nights a week. 
I like the Fage 0% greek yogurt.  It's super thick and is great with some mix-ins like fat free jello pudding mix (left as a powder) or PB2


I have seen this at most grocery stores-get your hands on it.  I was skeptical at first, but for realzzzz-when mixed with water it's like natural peanut butter.  

I used to be a big fan of protein bars, but they're pretty costly and I have found that I would rather eat real food when possible.  But, I keep a stash on hand for when I know I won't be home for a meal, or in an emergency when I might  get hungry.  I bought a combo box of the Zone Peanut Butter and Fudge Graham and Costco, but there are several options out there.  One new option I've come across are these NuGO bars.

There is a huge variety and which one I choose depends on my macro need. 

And of course, I will always make room for a donut...


Happy counting!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Prep

The search for Thanksgiving recipes is on!
This past week I did a thorough search on some trusty Thanksgiving faves, as well as some new ones that could be incorporated. 

Growing up, my grandmother always made sweet potatoes with the roasted marshmallows on top.  I was never one for sweet potatoes, but I couldn't resist the marshmallow top.  
When I came across these muffins, I knew they would become a staple.  
I've happily been making these for years. 

Who doesn't love a cupcake muffin with their dinner?
The marshmallow topping is the perfect touch and so easy to pipe! Due to it's fluffy nature, it can all be put into a large ziplock bad-just snip off a corner and pipe away!
*I always substitute canned sweet potatoes since it cuts way down on prep time.

I make these candy turkeys every year-they are a huge hit amongst the kids.  
I recommend making them over two days-one day for the body, and another day to embellish them; the body needs time to dry before you put the candy corn on top.  

Of course, who doesn't love a free printable?!?

If I was hosting Thanksgiving at my house, this would definitely be on the table.

I think these will be the perfect touch for our staff Turkey lunch gathering on Monday.
Wait until you see the cookies I'm making!
Screen-shot-2013-11-19-at-4.23.59-PM I think my students will find this humorous as their session treat.

 And lastly, instead of writing tons of notes in a subject notebook I've been carrying around, maybe you'll find these organizational sheets helpful.  Thank you Honey We're Home 
I typically aim for leftovers, but this is a good resource.

This time sheet will help take the pressure off, making the task of preparing for a big day more mindless.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving items?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Munchies

My co-worker recently said to me, "oh, you really do love to bake!"  
And my response, surprisingly, was-not really.  
However, I definitely enjoy seeing people enjoy what I cook and bake.  In this day in age where almost everything can be pre-packaged and bought at the store-"homemaking" really shows that extra TLC.

On Thursday night, after having rushed to do the Sabbath grocery shopping, Dovy asked me, "oh, you bought raisin challah because I love it?"
The truth was, I had actually forgotten to get a raisin challah. 
And that, is usually how I end up with a new baking/cooking gig.  
It just...happens.  

The other day I was at work, and someone was talking about the best chocolate cake ever.  
Well, I then offered to make my "best" chocolate cake.  
So-I'll be taking my chocolate cake to work soon.  

Anyway, I couldn't resist my 3 year old's request for raisin challah, and I just imagined his surprise and delight Friday night when he was able to have his raisin challah.  
So I began searching for a quick and easy challah recipe.  

I used to make challah every Thursday night into the wee hours of Friday morning, but with kids and a job, it just isn't happening anymore.  My challah making has been cut down to once a year around the major holidays; but that recipe is not a quick and easy one!

I scoured all my cookbooks, and looked at multiple on-line recipes, before I finally settled on this one.  I decided it was the one for a few reasons:  it didn't require quick-rise yeast, it gave the flour measurement in cups and not pounds, and it was a one-bowl recipe.    

Now, making bread from scratch with a mixer or by hand can be very intimidating.  However, I can guarantee a perfect loaf if you follow these tips.
1.  Make sure your yeast is fresh.  Either buy new individual packets, or keep a bag of yeast in the freezer.
2.  Most bread recipes begin with what is known as the sponge.  That is when a little bit of water and the yeast are mixed together to get the yeast to activate.  A lot of recipes add some sugar to this part.   If you do not notice after about 10 minutes that your yeast is bubbling, then it is not fresh.  
3.  The water that you use to mix with the yeast initially should not be too hot-otherwise it will kill it.  I would say that freezing cold water is not ideal either, lukewarm is perfect.  
4.  When it comes time for the dough to rise, I find that creating a warm environment helps!  I will run my oven by this point and will place the bowl near the oven.

Really, if you've been wanting to attempt challah, you should go for it!

2 1/2 cups warm water
1 T active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
4 T vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 T salt
8 cups flour 

 In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.
Because I wanted to make sure my yeast was active, I put the yeast and water into a small bowl and added 1 T of sugar.  Once I saw the bubbling, I poured it into the mixing bowl and proceeded as the recipe states.  

Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.
I do not knead the dough.  I will add flour as needed-just enough to keep it from sticking to my hands.  I was able to get 4 challahs out of this recipe.  Each of the 4 mounds of dough are then divided into three-so a total of 12 sections.  

Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid.Some toppings that people enjoy are poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or even some cinnamon and sugar.  

 Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.
I've found that my challah does not usually need the full cook time.  When the top is brown and you can see between the individual sections of the braid that the bread is beginning to pull apart-it is done.  

*If you wish to add raisins, use the desired amount and soak in water for about 30 minutes before mixing it in as the last ingredient.  


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hannah's Bag

While in the midst of my vacation, yes, let's just call it my blogging vacation, Hannah was diagnosed with a few allergies. 
One of them being the dreaded peanut allergy.  
When we informed Moshe that our house would no longer be able to have peanut butter, he thew himself onto the chair and exclaimed, "ugh, I love peanut butter!" 
And all I thought of was all the yummy desserts I could no longer make.
However, I quickly gave myself a mental spanking because this is really not a big deal at all, and I went into my typical organizing mode.  
With Epi pens running an almost $200 co-pay for 2 pens, I realized there was no way I was going to be buying a pen for every.single.possible location she would ever be in.  
A more realistic solution was to create Hannah's bag.

I had secretly been eying this Skip Hop cross body bag and knew this was the perfect opportunity to buy it. 

It has plenty of pockets, and comes with a wipes case, plus it has a strap for convenient handling.  

In addition to the allergies, Hannah also suffers from eczema-so this is my toned downed diaper bag which contains all of Hannah's necessities.

The only thing not shown is a change of clothes-and the reason they're not shown is because we needed to use them over the weekend! 

This bag is known around the house as Hannah's bag, and whenever we leave the house-it comes with us.  It also has a specific resting spot in the kitchen for easy access to the epi pens should we need it.

I have found that this solution really works well because it has everything we need to address an allergic reaction, and it's all in one place and whenever, wherever, whomever can just use this bag. 
Overall, I feel a lot less overwhelmed knowing that I just grab and go with this bag!

Monday, November 3, 2014

I'm back...and I'm hungry

So, why not start with a Monday Munchies?

Let me explain-I'm one of those that sets routines based on the beginning of a new week.
That's right-my diet always begins on Sunday.
My exercise always begins on Sunday.
So, my blog must begin again on it's normal start day-Monday.

I won't get into where I've been, because really, it's nothing too exciting.
I've just been way too tired to keep up with this space of mine, but I have missed it oh so dearly.
But, in order to re-commit to this space, I realized I have to let go of the things I didn't get to document-like newborn necessities, or past birthdays, and really try to blog in the moment.  
And oh how I would love it if I had the time necessary to create such wonderful postings.
But I can't promise anything.  
I'm tired.
But, I don't know any good speech therapist that didn't have something to say.  
So I'll just keep on keeping on!

Without further ado, my Monday Munchies is all about my recent cookies and cakes.  
If you remember, I had recently gotten into royal icing and cupcake toppers (also known as fondant).  Thankfully, I have great reason to practice!  
Think birthdays, back to school, and an open house night.  

For now, I'll just showcase what it is I've made, and in the future, I plan on video taping a tutorial on royal icing.
I also plan on taking some more classes so I can hone my cookie decorating skills.

I plan on giving more information and tutorials as I create more delectable treats!  If you have any questions please feel free to let me know!
Blogging tips